This grisaille pen painting from the second half of the 17th century is attributed to the Dutchman Cornelis Pieterse Mooij. The artist has drawn the composition with a reed pen and Indian ink onto a white gesso ground. Pen paintings are rare and very sought after.
About pen paintings
Within maritime painting one distinct subcategory, based not on the subject, but on the extremely time-consuming technique that was used, is very sought after: so-called pen paintings (“penschilderijen” in Dutch).
This monochrome grisaille technique in black, brown or grey consists of drawing with a reed pen and Indian ink onto a panel or a canvas that has been prepared with a white ground. Additionally some parts could be painted in with a brush with oil paint or with an ink wash (light ink): shadows, waves or clouds for example.
The technique of pen painting did already exist, but its application to maritime subjects was most likely “invented” by the Dutchman Willem van de Velde the Elder at the middle of the 17th century, circa 1645. It enabled the drawing to be highly detailed, so that the artist could fully demonstrate his ability and knowledge of shipping. The three eldest dated maritime pen paintings are from 1649: two were drawn by Willem van de Velde the Elder, one by Experiens Sillemans; both artists were active in Amsterdam.
About Casper van den Bos
Hoorn 1634 – 1656/1660
Van den Bos spelt his own first name sometime as Casper, sometimes as Jasper. Others also spell it as Caspar.
He sadly died at a very young age: at 22 or a bit older.
Painter of maritime subjects and pen painter. Today only his pen paintings are known. The Print cabinet (Rijksprentenkabinet) in Amsterdam holds seven etchings by van den Bos.
Van den Bos was also active as a shipbuilder, a profession that his father also had.
He worked in his birthplace Hoorn.
Dated paintings are known between 1651 and 1656.
A sketch book by him with 150 ships and town views of Rotterdam, Enkhuizen and Amsterdam was still known in 1878, but has since then disappeared.
Van den Bos’ pen painting technique is different from that of his colleagues who were using a pen. He used a brush. Therefore I can not imagine that this beautiful pen painting can be attributed to him.
About Cornelis Pieterse Mooij
Delfshaven circa 1635/1645 – 1693 Rotterdam
There is vey little information on this interesting painter:
- he had seven children;
- he might (occasionally) have worked as a notary clerk;
- he had a good sense of humour; the signboard of a house where he rented in 1686 a few rooms for two years had the following text “Moij weer en storm”, that is “Nice weather and storm” (moij = nice).
Dated works are known between 1664 and 1692.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because there is such a sober, almost modern touch to this pen painting.